Films for Tough Times — May 2023
The Mental Health Committee has selected the spiritual practice of viewing selected “Films for Tough Times.” The scarcity of mental health therapists and clinical psychologists, as America’s mental health needs have climbed, calls for the practice of self-care in not only personal relationships, but also with Planet Earth.
The newly-named Compassion, Peace, and Justice Mission notes that in order for there to be peace, there must be justice, and in order for there to be justice, there must be compassion.
The over-all topic of Mental Health for the month of May will be honored with the suggested viewing of two films, in order to encourage the spiritual practice of compassion-building.
A Beautiful Mind (2001) is based on the true story of mathematical genius John Nash (1928-2015). He became stressed over feeling isolated from his Princeton classmates, which triggered his paranoid delusions. Director Ron Howard worked with John and his wife Alicia, to gain their approval of accuracy about their lives, in order to evoke the world as seen by John.
Their psychiatrist diagnosed John with schizophrenia, and explained to Alicia about this mysterious and tragic disease. After many treatments and medications, finally a new insight came to John’s mind, the cloud lifted, and clear thinking returned to him. He, with Alicia and their son, traveled to Stockholm, Sweden, to receive his Nobel Laureate in Economics in 1994.
AND / OR
Martian Child (2007) is based on a true story (though fictionalized) about a widower and lonely science-fiction writer adopting a boy, who claims to be from Mars. “Dennis” is an abandoned child, moved from one foster home to another.
As a socially rejected 6-year-old, he doesn’t quite fit into his group home. The new father with help from his friend and from his sister, discovers that being an adoptive parent means that anything is possible. The authentic “Dennis” is interviewed at the end of the film.
“The Lord is gracious and righteous. Our God is full of compassion.”
Here are the qualities used for evaluating the films for compassion-building, and for the outcomes hoped for, after watching each film:
Qualities for evaluating films include:
1. Demonstrating compassion given to all of humanity and to all of creation, so that the film makes us feel good about humanity and creation;
2. Making kindness a priority;
3. Working through uncomfortable situations, especially coming to terms with one’s own personal hurt, disappointment, and/or loneliness;
4. Having a joyful ending; and
5. Being free for borrowing at local public libraries or on YouTube.
Outcomes realized after watching a film includes these hopes:
• Take note of the scene(s) which built up compassion within, for both humankind, and/or for nonhumankind.
• Reflect with self, or a group, on the wisdom of compassion which could be applied to another current situation.
• See, hear, and then act. “It only takes a spark to get a fire going,” wrote songwriter Kurt Kaiser in 1969: “That’s how it is with God’s love, once you’ve experienced it. You spread God’s love to everyone, you want to pass it on.”
“Happy are people who are humble, because they will inherit the earth.”
Matthew 5:3 (Common English Bible)
By the Presbytery of Chicago Mental Health Committee
Rev. Jefferson Caldeira, Moderator